WCL Teams Tap Home Run Derby Participants
YAKIMA, Wash. – With beautiful weather expected for the two days covering this year’s West Coast League All-Star Game events, there’s no doubt the 10 players who will participate in Monday’s Home Run Derby will heat things up.
The Home Run Derby, presented by Wildhorse Casino, begins at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Yakima County Stadium, with gates opening at 5:30 p.m.
Players participating in the Home Run Derby are Lucas Denney (Yakima Valley Pippins), Nick Nyquist (Walla Walla Sweets), Evan Johnson (Wenatchee AppleSox), Jordan Qsar (Corvallis Knights), Taylor Wright (Kelowna Falcons), Chase Illig (Bellingham Bells), Ian Nowak (Port Angeles Lefties), Hunter Vansau (Victoria HarbourCats), Collin Runge (Bend Elks) and Devlin Granberg (Cowlitz Black Bears).
Denney, the Pippins' participant, has had a stellar run this season and collected his sixth long ball of the season on Friday night in Bellingham with a game-tying home run in the top of the eighth inning. He has hit all six of his home runs on the road, and became the first Pippins batter since Vince Fernandez in July of 2014 to record a multi-home run game when he hit two long balls against Victoria on July 12. Denney, who redshirted this past season as a senior at Seattle University after injuring his leg in preseason, has had a terrific season for the Pippins, leading the team with a .356 batting average in addition to his six home runs and 20 runs batted in.
Of note among the other participants, Qsar, a Pepperdine product, leads the league with 11 home runs, which happen to be a third of the long balls hit by the Corvallis Knights, who are on top of the WCL with 33 home runs. Granberg, a Dallas Baptist product, and Wright, who will attend Maryland as a sophomore in the fall, have each recorded eight home runs while Johnson, a senior at Northern Colorado, has hit seven, but has not recorded one since June 23.
As far as a hitting breakdown of the derby participants, there are five left-handed batters and six right-handed hitters. Interestingly, all the hitters, besides Wright, are upperclassman, meaning heading into their junior year or above. Among the derby participants, only Denney, Wright and Granberg have hit a home run this season at Yakima County Stadium.
The Derby will consist of three rounds. In Round 1, each batter will receive 10 “free pitches” to attempt to hit home runs. After that, each batter will receive 10 “strikes” to pad his home run total. A “strike” will be a hit ball or an umpire-called strike if a batter takes a pitch. The top three batters will advance to the second round, with the same parameters as the first round. The third (championship) round will feature the top scores from the first and second rounds.
The top three finishers will receive trophy bats provided by DeVo Bats.
Following the Derby, which is part of the All-Star Fan Fest, is the All-Star Concert featuring performer Aaron Crawford, who will entertain the crowed with two 45-minute sets. All 43 All-Stars will be introduced on stage between sets.
The Fan Fest is co-presented by Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences and Regional Health. Tickets cost $20 each for both events and can be purchased by calling the Yakima Valley Pippins office at 509-575-4487 or at the stadium box office on Monday.
ABOUT THE PIPPINS: The Yakima Valley Pippins compete in the West Coast League, one of the nation’s premier summer collegiate wood bat leagues. The Pippins play their home games at Yakima County Stadium (“The Orchard”) in Yakima, Washington. After winning 96 games during their first three seasons in the WCL, the Pippins set the mark as the winningest WCL expansion team after three years. Yakima County Stadium will play host to the 2017 West Coast League All-Star Game, along with an extensive 31-game home season for Year No. 4 of Pippins' Baseball in 2017. Read more online at PippinsBaseball.com, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube with #ThatWasAwesome